22 Dec, 11 | by Iain Brassington
Here’s a little holiday challenge for you: come up with a bioethical controversy that some dark part of your soul wants to be real, if only because (a) you can get a paper out of it, and (b) it’ll cause heart attacks among the sort of people who make a point of listening to The Moral Maze. The only real constraint that I’m placing is that your scenario has to be at least on nodding terms with plausibility.
Put the title of the paper, and the abstract, in the replies. Since the scenarios you’ll describe will almost certainly never arise, there’s no need to worry about having your thunder stolen. Although, thinking about it, it’d be interesting to see if any real papers did materialise.
Here’s mine to get you going.
How Reproductive Cloning can Solve the Organ Shortage.
Saviour siblings have enjoyed a reasonable amount of attention in the bioethical literature over recent years, with a significant number of voices arguing in favour of the permissibility of deliberately choosing embryos that are tissue-matches for older siblings – though perhaps with the proviso that the parents should have been intending to reproduce anyway. But what about adults who develop serious health problems requiring a transplant? One potential solution to the problem is therapeutic cloning. However, this is potentially problematic, on the grounds that it involves creating a human life just to harvest component parts. A better solution would be to create a saviour sibling by means of reproductive cloning; this would mean patients benefit from new bone-marrow, and a nice new baby brother or sister.
Sheelagh McGuinness tells me that she and Margot Brazier cooked up something to beat this a while ago, and described the outline. It was impressively weird: I hope she posts it.